New Anti-Energy Development Initiatives Registered with Secretary of State
Eleven initiatives aimed at Colorado’s oil and gas development were issued on December 22, 2015, marking the start of a new chapter in the Centennial state’s ongoing tug of war between the energy industry and neighboring communities.
Eight of the proposed initiatives targeted setbacks for operations, but two of the measures are generating the greatest response from Colorado’s oil and gas proponents. One calls for the outright ban of hydraulic fracturing, while the other aims to shift regulations to local authority rather than that of the state.
Colorado’s booming population and the simultaneous emergence of the Denver-Julesburg Basin has pressed the two elements of the state’s economy together, resulting in vigorous political debates about the energy industry’s drilling practices. Five different Colorado communities passed hydraulic fracturing bans in the past few years, but state courts have since invalidated three of the bans. Similar measures appeared on ballots last year but were eventually removed in favor of forming a 21-person task force. Despite the compromise, friction remains between the two sides.
Karen Crummy, Communications Director for pro-energy committee Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence, spoke sharply against the measures in an email on December 23. “These measures are so radical they would kill jobs, ignore established laws, devastate Colorado’s economy and create a patchwork of rules and regulations throughout the state,” she said, while the title of the email calls the initiatives extreme, irresponsible and hypocritical. “These proposals are completely out-of-step with the majority of Coloradans who support responsible oil and natural gas development.”
Crummy also said the desire for local control shows that “[the anti-energy development camp] wants local governments to have control except when it conflicts with their radical agenda.”
A handful of E&Ps have cooperated with their neighboring communities: Great Western Oil and Gas tweaked its drilling plans to appease nearby residents and Synergy Resources (ticker: SYRG) has often spoken about “being a good neighbor” while running operations in close communication and in close proximity with Weld County surface dwellers in the Wattenberg field.